Tuesday, January 15, 2019

No "Home Sweet Home" for these two guys...

Hmm, being picked to be an Extra on a tv show does have its lighter moments.

My fellow retired Post and Courier newspaperman Prentiss Findlay  and I were slated to portray two "homeless men" in an upcoming production and we lugged satchels - and hanging bags -  of our clothing so Wardrobe could decide our "look."

The hair and makeup people had a blast as they kept bringing us back to the chair in front of the brightly-lit mirror.

They were really creative artists as they slowly painted and darkened our faces to reflect the tan look of guys who regularly were living outdoors and panhandling for an existence.

My hands were applied "Hollywood dirt" and my fingers and nails were painted to look grubby and unkempt.

Looked like I had NOT carefully washed my hands that morning with soap and water.

The wardrobe ladies heard me mention I was wearing a disposable shirt with a yellowed collar that I didn't care about and my worn pants already had a rip I had patched with some duct tape.

They whipped out sharp little scissors and went to town on our clothes, cutting and ripping. My shirt pocket was ripped half off and dangled.

I probably had encouraged them when they saw I had intentionally buttoned my shirt wrong. I left a creative opening there.

The banter between the craftspeople was good.

When wardrobe sprinkled some fake "blood" on my shirt - as if I had swiped a bleeding nose - they were reminded to NOT put any blood on my skin.

That was hair and makeup territory.

When the hair person started to add gel and muss my hair as they had done for Prentiss, I pulled out a Marine Corps black knit cap.

Wardrobe said that would work if I turned it inside out so the USMC logo was not shown. I am sure the Marines would appreciate that!

I pulled it on and she deftly tugged a white forelock down into view.

When I looked into the mirror, it reminded me of a 2004 Bill Murray movie called The Aquatic Life.

If it had been red, the cap would have looked more like the Murray image but he doesn't have my distinctive bushy white eyebrows.

Finally, we were taken upstairs to be included in a scene in a large "bus station"  with a ticket counter, seats in a waiting area and quite a few extras with suitcases, roller bags and purses.

Looked real to me.

I was positioned sitting on the floor, my back against the wall, in my tattered clothes while Prentiss ended up in a comfy waiting room chair.

He was handed a bedroll tied with a piece of rope as a prop and I also had a bedroll blanket next to me.  I splayed my feet out in front of me and concentrated on being a disheveled and grungy guy down on his luck, hanging out in a crowded bus station.

A prop guy came over and placed two metal crutches on top of my bedroll and handed me a cup with two dollars sticking out of it.

On the front was penciled "Thank you!"

My tip jar then had a bright yellow banana plopped in it and I settled down to let the action begin.

Prentiss was seated opposite me and later told me he quietly snapped some photos of my unsmiling face. Hope they turn out well.

I was totally in-the-role, serious and my eyes darted to everyone passing back and forth in front of me. None had been told to stop and add to my tip jar so they passed me by.

Earlier cast and crew had enjoyed a great lunch/dinner by Crafts Services. There even was a BBQ grill set up outside for cooking steaks.

Because I am pleased to be losing weight and eating healthy, I stuck with good diet choices of a small steak, some fish and a leafy salad topped with walnuts and diced ham.

A tall cup of ice water was my drink and I did not go near the enticing and tempting dessert table which always has an array of tasty treats!

As I ate I was careful not to smudge the applied "dirt" on my face and hands.

It was a pleasant drive down that morning and the conversation was great.

On the evening drive back home, we stopped so I could snap a photo of Prentiss standing by two life-size elephants in front of a fireworks store.

One of the elephants was pink.

(Click on the links and photos for more details.) I am being careful NOT to name the production.

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Friday, January 04, 2019

Hold the phone!

 My 3-year old cell phone has been "fading" for some time - not holding a battery charge -  and it finally died.

This telephonic tragedy happened while I was spending Christmas with my daughter and family in Oakland, in sunny - but chilly - California.

My sharp "take charge"  daughter sped us to a T-Mobile store where we were told my phone indeed was officially toasted and the battery could NOT be simply replaced. 

It had been a good 3-year run. Sigh. 

My buddy had found a "deal" and each of our phones had cost about $350.

BUT, the salesman added, they had a sale going on!
What are the odds of that happening? 

He showed me a comparable NEW LGQ7+ phone that would be only $275! 

Hmmm. I checked out the details and bought it. 

While the salesman went through a lengthy process of slipping in a new SIM card and moving ALL of my stored material to the new phone, the ladies and I engaged in delightful chit-chat. 

Soon we were on our way and I was snapping photos with my new phone.

That evening, at a park near her home, we walked her dog Scout who loved to chase after thrown rocks. No sticks for this one!

We stayed for a gorgeous sunset over downtown Oakland and, to the right, San Francisco.

The next day - Dec 27 - her mother was flying back to San Diego that evening.

We had a yummy brunch and all thoughts of my diet and counting carbs went out the window! 

I was ready to relax and enjoy the (tolerated) forbidden fruit... and LOTS of the sweet rolls, buttery Texas Toast, chocolate, whipped cream...well, you get the ghastly gourmand picture.

The holiday decorated diner was near my daughter's home so, after filling my plate and mouth, we headed into "the City by the Bay." 

Her spouse was preparing dinner that evening and checking new tenants into the Mod Cat Hotel*

A fun day in the city, great food and we arrived home just in time for dinner.

Stepping out of the car, my new phone slipped from the jacket I had draped over my arm and smashed into the brick walkway, shattering the screen!


Sitting on the porch was an Amazon package that had arrived that day with the $18 protective cover for the phone. 

I was numb and feeling really dumb. 

My daughter hugged me and assured me it would be good as new again and she called an Oakland phone repair store. The gentleman said he could be there in an hour to fix it ...but...he did not have the parts needed. He said Amazon could deliver what was needed on Saturday. 

I was flying out Friday the next morning so she thanked him and ordered the parts to be delivered to me at home on Saturday!

My flights back were scrambled because of nationwide stormy weather.

Delayed and/or canceled was the order of the day for the airlines all across the country that Friday. 

Eventually, I landed in Charleston at 12:45 Saturday morning instead of my 10:35 pm Friday scheduled arrival time.

My late departure was routed Oakland to Phoenix but I had to scramble to get on a flight from there to Charlotte, knowing that when I arrived there, I would have no seat to Charleston!

I was on standby but was lucky and got me a seat for the hour flight home. My checked luggage had made it as far as Dallas and would be delivered to my home "soon."

The needed parts arrived around 10 am and that afternoon I drove to the myPhone MD store downtown with my fingers crossed.

 The owner and I had chatted before I headed there and Taylor the repair technician quickly said I did have the correct parts.

He assured me I would have my fully repaired phone in less than an hour!

There was a convenient bar next door (of course) so I had a whiskey on the rocks and a grilled chicken and Swiss sandwich.

I chatted with the bartender and some fellows at the bar. and,  45-minutes later, I went back and picked up my phone!

The repair was only $70 because I furnished the parts.

When the owner heard I was going to blog about them, he gave me a free $20 USB-C battery charging cord. None of the ones I had for the dead phone would work so now I had one and a backup.

I immediately called my daughter to tell her that her vision of the phone good as new again was fulfilled! 

I like stories with a happy ending.

This is the sweater I bought so I would fit in with the others.

Hey, they own a Cat Hotel.

When I left, the sweater stayed behind. I was told it would be made into a cute pillow for the cattery.

A double "happy ending."

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Musical Merry Christmas...

 I finally got off my butt and went to see the annual Charleston Christmas Special.

Why did I wait so long? Duh.

This I believe, is the 23rd annual show.

A terrific 2-hours of just about every holiday season songs and some pretty funny visual gags.

Uh, don't miss the waddle of penguins number!

And the outstanding talent onstage...WOW!

I mean, Broadway productions in New York are fantastic because of the extremely high level of talent.

Let me say, this evening pleased me a lot!

The energy, the staging, the lighting, the 9-piece Special orchestra.

The charming - and witty - co-hosts Brad and Jennifer Moranz have been presenting this program at the Charleston Music Hall for more than 20 years.

Along with other mid-year specials and an array of other professional theatrical productions.

During the intermission, some of the young female dancers wandered through the audience, seeking volunteers to join them onstage for a special holiday musical familiar moment.

The lead singer came out and individually introduced the good-spirited volunteers as they came out with costumes and props and recreated each of the scenes from The "12 Days of Christmas!"

I particularly liked the image of "Four birds a-calling," and the "Goose" to his right who kept a-laying an egg the size of a basketball!

I didn't want to bother the happy, smiling people seated close to me so I held back on taking a lot of photos.

I did find the "snowman chorus line" on the official site and decided to include that in this posting.

It also is a better planned, lighted and posed shot than anything I snapped.

I was seated about halfway back from the stage, just behind the lowered control panel.

It was interesting how many (silent) phone calls came into that booth during the show!

But, not really a distraction from the brightly-lighted colorful stage in front of me.

The lighting guy was to my left in the booth and his effects were terrific.

The show hit religious themes as well as Jolly Old St. Nick.

If Santa was portrayed by Brad Moranz, I give high marks to the amazing "fat suit" he was wearing.

Takes a brave thin man to attempt that!

Later in the show, we saw Brad in short pants and suspenders and the phrase "knobby knees" was mentioned - and displayed.

He and wife Jennifer played young brother and sister, preparing for the festive evening.

A huge rocking chair added to the illusion that they were tiny tots.

They cavorted with Rudolf, the famed red-nose reindeer and an entertaining and impressive Manny Houston, dancing in traditional holiday colorful red (pants) and green (jacket).

I do not want to give away the beautiful ending.

I'll end now with this shot that did a slow fade-to-black at its conclusion.

Brad made sure to introduce all 9 band members who took their turns, coming out front during the performance.

Each solo was well-received and applauded.

The Music Hall was packed on a Thursday night
and the whole audience was invited at the end to come up to the front of the stage to meet the performers and shake their hands.

A nice friendly touch.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

And, have a very Merry Christmas!

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Friday, December 14, 2018

The roar of greaspaint and the smell of the crowd...

 Got a pleasant surprise this morning from my biggest fan, my older daughter.

She has followed my efforts at being an Extra or Background Actor in tv shows filmed /taped in Charleston and movies down in Savannah.

I had told her about a VERY long day on the set of LIZZIE, a tv movie about the trial of Lizzie Borden.

My role was to portray the Assistant Prosecutor and I thought I might have some pretty good face time.

And, evidently, my thinking was pretty accurate!  Still had no lines - and no name in the credits (I'll have to check on that) - but maybe there would be some good still shots to add to "my reel" to show casting directors.

The two screen photos my daughter Amy attached were indeed good. And, I asked her to snap some more!

We had filmed in Springfield, GA, about 25 miles inland from downtown Savannah.

The director was using the historic Effingham County Courthouse for the trial scenes.

The real trial ran three days (all of ours was shot in one long day) and wardrobe would come in and change our ties to represent a different day.
On the third "day" I asked for a bow tie. What the hell!

I was having fun being picked as an Extra.

Online, I saw a t-shirt designed especially for zany fantasy actors like me.

In LIZZIE I was an assistant DA, in Mr. Mercedes I have played "elderly hospital visitor," "visitor to an old folks home", and, my best look yet in Season 2,  as "patient asleep in a hospital bed."

I nailed that last one and actually DID fall asleep!

Speaking of the production of Mr. Mercedes, written by Stephen King, I was pleased to be picked many times in Seasons 1 and 2.

I was included in the final episodes in both seasons.

We traveled to Manning for the final S2 scene, that required the use of a courthouse and brought in nearly 500 extras!

It was just announced there will be a Season 3 of Mr. Mercedes and it will be filmed here again.

Maybe I will get to reprise my role as the very patient patient copping some ZZZs again?

I showed the photo taken of me bedridden and it caused a flurry of contacts.

Friends asking what was wrong? When had this happened? And, when could I see visitors?

Sorry I had caused some concern with my reposed acting.

Here is the link my daughter Amy sent that got me excited about seeing Lizzie.

Now I look forward to the release of the movie EMPEROR, also filmed in Savannah.

With temps in the mid-nineties, I was 2 days on set, dressed in a 100% wool period outfit playing a Townsman (as opposed to being a plantation-dweller), in a film about the  1859 slave revolt at Harper's Ferry in Virginia.

I feel I might have good face time in that too.

(Click on the links and photos for more detail.)

Thanks for tagging along as I continue my quest to become an "overnight star"...no matter how many years it might take.

Oh, I did shave the beard (had it for two years) and, no doubt,  it helped me land roles in several periods films.

Most recently, I had trimmed it back for a role as a choir member and restaurant diner in the HBO pilot shot here with John Goodman and Danny McBride.

Right after I shaved, I learned HBO had given a green light to the series that will be called Righteous Gemstones.

Hey, if the beard is needed, it will take 3-4 weeks for it to be camera-ready.'

Shared some fun time on set with Prentiss Findlay, a fellow retired co-worker at The Post and Courier.

As far as I know, he still has his beard.

And, we both like a blue oxford shirt.

The Effingham County Courthouse. I was lighted from outside with really bright lamps so inside,  it was always daytime.

Even long after dark.

Some of that Movie "magic."

By now, you know the next step: Click on the links and photos for more details.

Guess I'll keep going after roles until - as the Old West Hangman often  said - it ceases to be fun.

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Sunday, December 02, 2018

Whew! Hurricane "Season" is oficially over!

 So, today December 1,  marks the end of the 2018 Hurricane Season. Yay!

Had two close calls: "Florence" and "Michael" during a topsy-turvy weather half-a-year as we inched our way through sometimes harsh conditions.

Fires, floods, snow, tropical storms, hurricanes, and other assorted weather rolled across the country in 2018 and the most dangerous storm predicted locally was Florence as it seemed to be headed to blast through the Lowcountry.

Sounded ominous enough that on the internet, there appeared pop-up sites to request shelter as families were told to evacuate and head away from impending danger.

Just as pleas for help were being posted, so were compassionate offers of a place to stay and hunker down until the danger passed.

I felt fairly safe and prepared as I hauled out my 12-year old generator, made sure it cranked up and gathered a supply of gas.

As it turned out, both storms struck just a glancing blow!

That was great news as I have never had to use my generator during a storm or suffer an extended loss of power.

It always starts right up when I test it but fortunately, I never had to try it in the dark, in the rain and with winds buffeting me from every direction!

And a nervous cat upstairs, impatiently waiting for me to get the lights back on.

But, in the spirit of being a nice guy who had a comfortable spare bedroom and bath available, I posted my offer of shelter and awaited responses.

Nothing happened during Florence but I felt I had offered a good deed.

Thanks, Rolling Stones for "Gimme Shelter!"

Now, the storm Michael was never a severe threat and there was less really scary talk as it approached South Carolina.

BUT, to some, even a small danger had to be considered.

I did hear from a young couple who wanted to make a few changes to feel safe.

They were camping - in a tent - somewhere in Mount Pleasant and asked if my offer was still good.

I could not picture a KOA - or any campsite - East of the Cooper but, I asked a few questions, they packed up and headed to my home in Hanahan.

All of my "camping" had been done while I was in the Marines many, many years ago.

Back then, my tent was small, olive drab green camo, and was rolled up in my backpack.

My clothes also were that nice shade of green so we would blend in. and I had been issued a metal canteen and wore a steel helmet.

When my children were small, I tried to recreate the glamor and excitement of sleeping outside, under the stars in my Tallahassee backyard.

 But it didn't turn out to be a happy evening for them or the kittens. The mosquitoes did just fine.

Oh, I almost forgot, I also had enjoyed some "tent time" during Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany a few years ago.

Nobody there was wearing olive drab.

The massive "tents" held about 5,000 revelers and another 2,000 serving staff.

And various Oomp-Pah- Pah bands.

Some were even in short pants...wearing suspenders!

And all were drinking large glasses of beer.

But, back to the young Nomadic couple who parked in my backyard and waved a greeting at me when I stepped out on my deck.

I asked about the flowers on the dash and was told the wife liked flowers but, of course,  these were plastic.

Upstairs, as we chatted and got to know each other, I learned they had been camping all around 6 or 7 states for months.

Their next destination after Charleston was a person's backyard down in Beaufort.

Of course, this camping decision depended on where the storm Michael headed.

We settled in, they brought their stuff upstairs and into their room.

I asked if they wished to use my washer and dryer?

They immediately thanked me and started running their clothes through the cycles as our conversations continued.

Married only a few years, the mid-20s couple had decided to see the country before settling down and had no particular place - or state - in mind. They were enjoying the travel but did look forward to a real bed for the evening!

He noticed my guitar and asked if I played. I admitted I HAD taken lessons for 6 months but dropped that after realizing one had to practice more than the one day of the week when the one-hour lesson was scheduled.

He not only tuned my acoustic guitar and played some Bob Dillon and Beatles songs, his wife mentioned she played the sax but they had never played together.

We quickly took care of that!

The storm sorta raged outside as we sat up and talked quite late. I woke the next morning around 10 am (a retired guy's choice!).

But they didn't join me until closer to noon. They REALLY liked having a roomy, comfortable bed for a change. We all were pleased the storm had shifted away and now had rained itself out.

The weather was clearing and they decided not to go back to Mt. Pleasant but to do some sight-seeing and then head on down to Beaufort.

He had done work as a Busker (playing for tips on a street corner) and had some serious skills as a chef.

I watched as he took elements from their small food larder and produced a meal that was outstanding.

I made notes of condiments and other things he used to see if I could add healthy variety to my simple meals, cooking for one.

All in all, it was a pleasant "exchange student" type of experience. I heard tales of being on the road and making lots out of meager supplies.

Before they left, they did go buy a 3-man tent to replace their smaller one.

We promised to stay in touch but I have not heard back from them yet.

I hope their brief stay in South Carolina was uneventful after the Michael storm was handled by seeking shelter

I also hope they take out their instruments (he also plays an electric ukulele) and they jam together!

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for stopping by as I add to my initial one thousand entries on my 12-year old blog. The second thousand is launched and on its way.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Daily Newsletter content...

A long, long time ago, I was a staff photographer for the metro newspaper in Southern California, Now it is called the San Diego Union-Tribune.

When I was there in the 1960s, the morning paper was The Union and the afternoon one, the Evening Tribune.

They merged after I left, similar to what my hometown papers did when the  News and Courier was blended in with the Evening Post and now is the Charleston Post and Courier.

This is a long introduction to explain that I receive a daily newsletter, written by and for, about 500 former editorial employees of the San Diego papers.

It is called the 919 Gang, named for the address of the paper when it was still located downtown at 919 Second Avenue.

OK. Now you know the background of the issue I received today.

Editor Jack Reber has been at the helm of The 919 Gang for 10 years and encourages all of us to contribute items recalling old friendships, what-ever-happened-to? and surprising topics such as farting.

Naturally, I had to chime in and make a tie-in to my hometown. Read on..

       Good evening, 919 Gang. I was wrapping some Christmas presents tonight and Mary informed me that the color of the bow should match the color of the ribbon. Who made that rule? Did we vote on it? Is it in the Constitution? I view this as an attempt to stifle my creative genius.


CHUCK BOYD writes: 
Speaking of "shooting a bunny" - or a rabbit - a friend of mine reminded me that in the movie "Caddyshack," Rodney Dangerfield was playing a brash, loud, lout in a country club banquet setting.
          In the middle of praising himself to his tablemates, he paused, lifted a cheek and cut one,  and bellowed "Hey, did somebody step on a duck?" 
Bill Murray lives here in Charleston and can be seen often roaming around. A local bar commissioned a noted graffiti artist to decorate its walls with portraits of famous people, and Murray, as he was seen in Caddyshack, has a prominent spot behind the bar.

          I happened to drop in while the artist was working on Murray's iconic face.

 To my knowledge, he never has stopped in The Sparrow but I have seen him in several "Bill Murray sightings" as we call them here in Charleston. 
          One often repeated episode: Murray was seated nearby as a young couple was eating burgers. When she got up to go to the restroom, Murray slid into her seat and started eating her French fries as her startled date just stared. 
Murray had a few more fries, stood up and said "She won't believe you," and left.

          Since I started the exceedingly low-brow discussion of flatulence, breaking wind, passing gas, cutting the cheese, etc., etc., I must help the thread continue. One of my favorite expressions, which I associate with picnics and other outdoor activities for some odd reason, is to attribute the sound created by flatulating to a “barking spider.” In the meantime, a joke: While at a dinner party, a man toots. Another man says "How dare you fart in front of my wife". The first man says "Sorry, I didn't realize it was her turn.”  If you’d, heaven forbid, like to read dozens more, see http://www.jokes4us.com/barjokes/fartjokes.html

          KEN WILLIAMS writes:
Rex Salmon meant to type "poot," which is informal in the US for "an act of breaking wind." Yes, I heard that term often in Ohio, where I grew up among the "O'Tucks." Let's see who among us know what that means.


REBER: I complained last night about the TV commentators who just chatter nonstop during football games.

Like you, I feel the incessant chatter is annoying. Watching a game or a NASCAR race, I keep the sound very low or silent. 
If something spectacular happens, it is repeated and I might turn up the sound for that...then lower it again.
          Want to talk about all the Big Pharma ads with half the message being the serious side effects? They are clustered on the evening TV news and/or with a bevy of trial lawyers proclaiming huge judgment jackpots as bait. Oh, and silly phone numbers: all 7s, all 8s and all 9s.

          REBER: The TV and magazine ads for pharmaceuticals (the non-addictive ones) are nothing more than an attempt to get people to dictate to their doctors what medications they should take. I’d like to see those ads ended. Does California outlaw advertising by lawyers? In Las Vegas, there are billboards everywhere. These lawyers are just begging you to have an auto accident. I don’t see those ads in California.

 Editor Jack used a headline of "She Won't Believe You."

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Sunday, November 04, 2018

Contain yerself!

I can remember when cargo ships were unloaded "by hand."

Many dock workers converged on a ship that tied up and huge nets lifted break bulk material stacked on pallets from the hold of the ship.

Very labor intensive.

Cranes hoisted the filled nets into the air and.....
I don't remember what happened next.

I guess the material was placed in trucks and they drove away.
It was a LOT of work and it took many union longshoremen to load and unload a ship.
  •  Break bulk cargo is typically material stacked on pallets and lifted into and out of the hold of a vessel by cranes on the dock or aboard the ship itself.  
  • The volume of break bulk cargo has declined dramatically worldwide as containerization has grown. 

Today we are used to seeing container ships coming in and out of our harbor.

But, the reality is it is too costly to ship empty containers back to where they came from so they tend to stack up.
Hmm, maybe there is another use for them?

Local celebrity Bill Murray and his partners envisioned a concept of cutting in windows and doors and using them as "rooms" for a business.

Say, a Container Bar where food trucks are invited to come, hook up and serve a variety of foods at the unique neighborhood bar.

The food trucks now have an answer to where do you sit down to eat the food that's just been plated and handed to you.

Standing with food in one hand and a beverage in the other would not be a problem here.

Adding a bar, outdoor and indoor seating and some A-C spaces would round out the amenities.

I have no idea if the costs were very different using these pre-fabricated "buildings" as opposed to building from the ground up, but it is indeed different!

A business likes to stand out and this qualifies.

Instead of aging stacked metal units that would slowly rust sitting outdoors in a large lot, creating an eyesore,  Murray and his partners carved out a new neighborhood destination around the corner from their successful Rutledge Cab Company restaurant.

I kept an eye on the proposed opening and stopped by a week after it opened its steel doors and was warmly welcomed by a young and talented staff.

Good thing that I did because several weeks later, my daughter and her spouse came to visit from Oakland, California.

I was pleased with their reactions when we stopped by for a beverage.

We took advantage of an authentic "Italian" pizza from a parked food truck so explored all of the Container Bar's possibilities.

My daughter remarked that the food truck owner was literally on the phone with his Mom in Italy when we ordered.

He later stopped by to see how we liked his pizza.

He added that his Mom told him she liked the phone call but it was very early in Italy when he called home.

He quickly promised he would watch the time difference in the future. Ciao!

(Click on the link and photos for more details.)

Do yourself a favor and check out this new addition to the local food and beverage scene.

Now that the heat has simmered down a bit, both the outdoor and indoor seating will add to the enjoyment.

Something new in the neighborhood!

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